Monday, August 22, 2011

Enabling Love

Enabling is not loving.

Love is only something we can give to someone who is capable of standing on their own two feet, who is of clear mind, and who has also been healthy enough to learn to love themselves.

Love is more a decision than it is an emotion. Emotions are guidelines we follow. A commitment is based on a decision. While our emotions may change, a decision or a commitment should not, extenuating circumstances excluded.

If a relationship is based on the rescuing of an another, then it is not love. If the primary feeling of the relationship is one of "I rescue you, and then you get to owe me your love because I have rescued you so that I can feel 'good enough' through the act of rescuing you", the relationship is not only dysfunctional, but doomed to be riddled with unnecessary drama via manipulation by both the rescuer and the one playing the wounded victim.

While on the surface the rescuer seems like a hero, in some cases the truth is the rescuer needs the helpless one so to shine in contrast to. In some cases rescuers are in need of controlling situations, and have learned that the helpless rarely put up a good fight. Sometimes the rescuers are those of us who feel guilty for being intelligent or for achieving. Because the rescuer may not have learned to love themselves selfishly, they sometimes seek others to help, so to share their good fortune, so to dampen the goodness almost as a way of punishing oneself for being fortunate.

When relationships are rooted in addictions of any kind, and the roles are such as one is the rescuer while the other is the one in need of rescuing, true authentic love is not found. Instead what is found, is a dramatic roller coaster ride of emotions that run highs and lows. When there is rescuing going on, the rescuer basks in the euphoria of the acts of being a martyr, while the one being rescued gets to act out their helplessness.

On the surface for the one in need, it would seem they are unable to tend to their own needs whether they be financial, spiritual, or physical. Perhaps the one who in need has an anger issue, or is depressed. The one in need is emotionally draining to the rescuer, and it would appear that the helpless one is in fact truly in need. But more often than not those in need are sly manipulators who have learned that by acting as if they were helpless, gets others attention. Unable to fulfill or unwilling to learn to fulfill their own emotional, financial of physical needs, the helpless manipulate attention, validation and love out of others through the acts of seeming as if they are unable to care for themselves. The enabling attention of others gets the helpless off the hook every time, and sadly helps keep the helpless one believing in their own helplessness.

The two involved are actually two sides of the same coin. The rescuer could not be without the one who has been deemed as in need of rescuing. While one is usually super independent, the other is super dependent. The two dance the dance of enabling and codependency as well as any seasoned Tango experts.

The need to rescue is so ingrained that the rescuer could not nor would not attract unto themselves a healthy non-needy partner. The 'victim mentality-the world is out to get me one-I can't do this on my own needy one' can and only will attract a partner who has rescuer tendencies. Healthy individuals, not infected by the needs to control others through enabling care-taking, or the need to play the victim and thus control others into care-taking, would not be attracted to a person who has an unusual need to put others into the victim role, or attract one who is not interested in tending to the unhealthy enabling needs of another.

Love is based on a mutual give and a take. Love is based on respect. Love is based on clear concise exchanges of feelings, words, and physical attentiveness. Love is kind. Love is a free giving. Love is empathetic. Love is strong enough to withstand distance, and humble enough not to smother. Love is joyful delight in another. Love is a strong sense of contentment.

If the love you feel is unstable, unsure, argumentative, hostile, or if you find yourself complaining more about your partner whether verbally or just within the confines of your own mind, it is not love. If you believe you are in love with someone who has an addiction, you must decide whether your love is based on your unearthed need to rescue and enable others. If you are the one playing out the role of the victim, know that manipulating others into doing for you what you are responsible for doing yourself, will never make you feel good about you.

All love starts with healthy, self actualizing, self responsible, love of self.